A Miami man spent ten days in jail for recording police arresting his friend, accused of falsifying his name when all he did was refuse to provide his name on the basis that he wasn’t doing anything illegal.
In fact, Lazaro Estrada followed the Miami-Dade police officer’s initial orders to scurry back inside a store because the cop insisted he was in fear for his life, claiming the man he had handcuffed was still armed.
If that was truly the case, then the cop, Michael Valdez, has his own self to blame for putting his life in danger.
But Estrada said his friend, who was getting arrested for fleeing officers on his motorcycle three weeks earlier, not only has a concealed weapons permit, but the officer had already removed the gun.
And the handcuffed man wasn’t resisting in the slightest, so the cop was simply overdramatizing the situation as they always do.
But the man’s fiancee was getting hysterical over watching her future husband getting arrested, so she began shrieking at Estrada to get back inside the store, which he did, even though he knew he was legally entitled to remain outside recording.
The incident took place March 17 at a store specializing in vaporizers owned by the man getting arrested. Estrada had been hired as a DJ for a special St. Patrick’s Day event.
After he was ordered inside, Estrada continued recording through the window from inside the store.
But at least two witnesses remained outside, so he stepped back outside at 5:15 in the video, prompting the cop to order him back inside.
“Can you tell him to get inside the store,” Valdez ordered, which prompted the handcuffed man’s fiancee to shriek hysterically to “get inside the store.”
This is a classic situation of a woman who was under duress watching her fiancé get arrested and probably not aware of our legal rights to video record cops in public, so it’s important in these situations to take control, informing the uninformed citizen of our rights and assuring them that you’re doing nothing but trying to protect the person getting arrested.
At 7:18 in the video, when a multitude of cops have arrived, the initial cop gets very brave and starts yelling profanities at the handcuffed man, which prompted Estrada to move towards the door of the store.
And that prompted several cops to storm up to him and demand his identification, which he refused to do.
And that led to his arrest.
“Let me explain something to you,” Valdez said as he approached Estrada.
“The guy is armed and is three times my size and I’m telling you to back off.
“You’re going to be arrested for … for … for … uh … ah.”
They later determined he had been obstructing justice, the usual makeshift charge when cops retaliate against citizens for recording them, and falsifying his name. The obstruction charge was changed to resisting arrest.
“I never gave him my name,” Estrada said in a telephone interview with Photography is Not a Crime Wednesday.
After they arrested him, they discovered he had a warrant out of Broward County for an unpaid traffic ticket, which resulted in him remaining in jail for ten days.
Perhaps Estrada can report Valdez to internal affairs now that the unit’s lieutenant has been arrested on felony charges that he assisted drug traffickers, including plotting murders.
Estrada’s arrest took place in South-Dade, just down the street from where another Miami-Dade cop was arrested on DUI charges this week after he was accused of crashing his county car, injuring two little girls.
Call the Miami-Dade Police Department’s Public Information Officer, which is still run by Major Nancy Perez, who had me arrested in 2012, at 305-471-1900.
Send stories, tips and videos to Carlos Miller.